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Archpastoral Message

Archpastoral message of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros to the Faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

The event of the Crucifixion leads us into the greatest expression of the divine mystery of love. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends" (John 15:13). We contemplate the Crucifixion and approach with awe and amazement God’s awesome condescension. "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philip. 2:8).

The icon of the Crucifixion depicts God’s great sacrifice. The city is seen in the background, and at the foot of the cross is a dark place representing "the place of the skull," the tomb of Adam. All creation was moved by Christ’s death. Holy Scripture reveals that the sun and the moon were darkened at the time of our Lord’s death. Above our Lord’s head was placed the inscription, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."

The icon strives to depict the deeper spiritual reality of triumph over death, rather than the human emotions of saddness. Whenever we refer to the Crucifixion we never see it apart from the Resurrection of the Lord. For this reason we sing: "We bow to Your cross, O Lord, and we praise Your holy Resurrection."

Following the examples of the Virgin Mary and John the Evangelist we are to be present at the foot of the Cross. Orthodox Christian STEWARDSHIP expects us to remain faithful and obedient to Christ and His Church. We must confront all situations with faith, love, and patience so that we may persevere and anticipate greater joy in blessings to come.

During our life we face moments of hardship. The obstacles before us test our faith, we too often have a cross to bear. We become like one of the two thieves crucified with our Lord: either we are impatient and demanding or we remain faithful and obedient to God and His teachings. The faithful Steward is wise and patient awaiting His guidance and instruction. The Cross of our Lord is testimony to the courage and strength we too must possess as we "…take up our cross and follow" Christ.

See: Matthew 27:32-44; Mark 15:21-32; Luke 23:26-43; John 19:17-37

To learn more, visit the Department of Stewardship.